Church remembers 225 years with memories, music, laughter and tears

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Sunday afternoon the North Livermore Baptist Church celebrated its founding 225 years ago. Moderator Frances Berry shared a brief history of the church. She was recognized as the church's longest active member. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

LIVERMORE — Sunday afternoon, the North Livermore Baptist Church celebrated 225 years with a service of music and memories.

Pastor Bonnie Higgins welcomed everyone and gave an opening prayer. The North Livermore Baptist Church Tribute Singers provided special music. Singing were Tom Berry, Lew Lyman Bill Marstaller, Kim Cote, Linda Deane and Debra Hebert. Linda Lyman was the pianist.

Church Moderator Frances Berry said a group of men and a few women got together in 1793 to get a church going. At first, the 17 people met in someone’s home. Later they met in the schoolhouse.

Reverend Sylvanus Boardman was the church’s first pastor. He served the church from 1802 to 1810.

“Only two months of study were needed to become ordained,” Berry said.

She said the members wanted to have a church building. One was built on The commons. When that church burned, a new one was started on the Gibb’s Mill Road. When one of the workers was injured, it was taken as a sign from God not to build there.

“The outside structure of the church hasn’t changed much. At first it was on the ground. Eventually a basement was added for Sunday School rooms,” Berry said.

She spoke of some of the other 54 pastors who have served the church. Rev. James Ashton, who served from 1958-1962, was a young pastor with a family.

Rev. Arthur Harvey was also a music teacher at Livermore Falls High School. He encouraged some fellows in the church to start a quartet which sang for many years.

Rev. David Dunn was a full time pastor from 1965 to 1968.

“I’ve been here since 1947. I have lots of memories,” Berry said.

The North Livermore Baptist Church celebrated 225 years Sunday afternoon. Members of the celebration committee and former ministers shared amusing stories from years past. Pictured from left are Frances Berry, Rev. Thomas Ashton, Rev. David Dunn and Lew Lyman. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Rev. James Ashton said he was not brought up Baptist.

“How good it felt to come in to a congregation like this. The church took my family in and I was ordained here the following year,” he said.

He shared stories of trips he had taken with Howard Berry and baptisms he had performed.

Rev. David Dunn spoke of the history of this church and its people who have served the Lord throughout the world.

“This church was so good to us. How you cared for my wife and baby while I was in seminary was a blessing. We remember North Livermore Baptist Church and the great heritage you have,” he said.

Memories of Baptist Youth Fellowship trips and parties, first dates leading to 45 years of marriage, a speaker blowing up while the quartet was singing on Easter Sunday, a baby shower given by church members, not enough seats at a funeral, Easter Sunrise Services in the snow and children’s involvement followed.

“Kids were always an important part of this church. I always felt I was important and that has carried over today,” one member said.

“I grew up in this church. The lay people have meant so much. They kept us going as kids, were there for us as adults. It’s always been a home for us,” someone else said.

“How many businesses, social groups or sports teams started in 1793 are still in existence today? As the world gets a little darker, the church shines that much brighter,” Executive Minister American Baptist Churches of Maine Rev. Dr. Al Fletcher said.

Members of the Marstaller family sang It is Well With My Soul.

Members of the Marstaller family sang It is Well With My Soul during the 225 Anniversary Celebration of the North Livermore Baptist Church Sunday afternoon. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Pastor Higgins presented Frances Berry, who has been a member since 1948, with a plaque for being the church’s longest active member.

Following the service refreshments were served downstairs.

“I was ordained here. It is a fun time to be back here,” Rev. Dunn said.

pharnden@sunmediagroup.net